Market Research Methods

Marketing research knowledge has significantly increased in response to growth in disruptive innovations including the internet and technology development. In my experience, I have found that market research has been essential when repositioning my business to support product advancement, and in helping discover marketing opportunities and expanding market shares through various conveyance channels. Additionally, marketing research has helped influence the performance and effectiveness of my marketing strategies by helping to find my ideal customer with little error and without wasting time and resources on customers that were never going to purchase.

To help with analyzing markets, there are two useful forms of marketing research; primary and secondary.

Primary Research. This is a research methodology where you interact with your customers and gather as much information as you can directly from them. The information is generally collected through surveys, questionnaires, feedback forms, and interviews.

Secondary Research. This research relies on information which has been collected by others (blogs, previous researchers, data channels). You should conduct this type of research by collecting and analyzing articles, web pages, and books as references for the collected research data.

Phenomenology. A phenomenology research method uses analysis to capture individual customer experiences. This method is used for unfolding customer experiences by examining the uniqueness and commonalities of events and circumstances. The data collection techniques used in phenomenology research include in-depth analysis, documentary, and observation.

Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methods

When conducting research, you should first decide the method of research you intend to use. Research study methodologies are characterized as either qualitative, quantitative, or a combination of both, which is referred to as mixed methods. Of these methods, none can be considered the best method without factoring in the goals and objectives of your research.

I know it may seem a bit overwhelming, but understanding research methods are critical if you desire a certain outcome for your marketing efforts. For example, when I’m putting together an AdWords campaign, I would rather put together my campaign based on data collected from a quantitative method versus a qualitative method. Otherwise, I would waste time and money guessing what to do based on trial and error. A quantitative research method is better for helping to pinpoint your customer and develop a more effective marketing campaign.

Quantitative. A quantitative research method is beneficial for collecting data in the form of tests, reliance, probability theory, and surveys for analyzing statistical hypotheses that relate to your business, marketing goal, or research questions. A quantitative research method is best used when you want to analyze numbers. For example, you could use a quantitative approach when sending out a survey where you expect to get the survey results in numerical format, or if the survey has multiple choice questions.

Qualitative. Qualitative research consists of using real-world experiences and interpreting the phenomena. Unlike quantitative research, a qualitative examination is non-measurable. This research method can be used to help you understand and discover experiences, perspectives, and insight of your customers. An advantage of a qualitative approach is that the study participants are not constrained to a predetermined set of responses such as those in multiple choice or numerical questions. Meaning, through qualitative research, the participants would give their broad perception versus clicking a checkbox or radio button like in surveys.

Unlike a quantitative method, a qualitative examination technique can help to assess why customers behave a certain way. The method also helps in discovering boundaries that influence thought by breaking down points of interest and gathering information from in-depth sources. A quantitative method often makes the assumption that there is a singular truth that exists, which does not include human perception. A drawback of using a quantitative approach to collect data is that it is expensive considering the amount of time needed to collect and analyze the data.

Mixed Methods. Mixed methods are useful when you want to combine qualitative and quantitative methods by linking their differences. The key principle of mixed methods is that various forms of data can be collected by using multiple strategies and methods. Mixed methods can assist in reflecting complementary strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative methods, and produce opportunities for approaches with weaknesses by correcting method biases.

Determining whether to use a qualitative or quantitative method is dependent upon the importance of how you desire to collect your data. Simply stated, qualitative techniques define and describe while quantitative techniques estimate and quantify. When creating a new marketing strategy, neither qualitative nor quantitative measures are more important than the other when determining value and sales. If you are confused on which method to use, testing both measures will help you find the best outcomes.